Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Logitech k400 Wireless Touch Keyboard Review

As many "smart TV" owners know, "typing" with your TV remote control can be a hassle at best, a pain at worst. Fortunately, there are alternatives when you want to access your TV like you would a PC. 

One is a smartphone app, such as this unofficial one for use with Samsung TVs. Another, especially handy if you don't use a smartphone, is the Logitech k400 keyboard.

Logitech k400 Keyboard

The keyboard has smallish keys and is nearly full-size, but may be a bit irritating for those with fat fingers. The package includes a small transceiver which plugs into a free USB port on your smart TV, as well as a USB range extender smaller than many USB flash drives. 

Samsung, manufacturer of my particular smart TV, "...does not guarantee compatibility with all devices..." (source), but freely list their very own keyboard as wholly compatible, which is convenient for them. However, at least for my Samsung UN46EH5300, this particular keyboard worked out of the box for me.

The keyboard itself uses two AA batteries, and the transceiver runs off the TV's USB power. For your Samsung TV, a button with a right-mouse-button icon will, assuming you're viewing a TV channel, pop up a menu which lets you open Samsung's trademark on-screen menu. From there you can open YouTube and various other online services, and thereafter type URLs in as desired.

So far, my only complaint is that as far as Samsung's built-in web browser goes, you're stuck with ads (which might otherwise be blocked on your PC with the AdBlock Plus browser add-on or other means), and the browser itself for the few sessions I've opened with it so far has frequently crashed.

This does not impugn my impression of the Logitech k400 itself, though; it seems to do exactly what I expect it to do, enable both keyboard and mouse control of my smart TV.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Videos Added To Serviio Do Not Appear In Library

Recently my DLNA setup based on Serviio version running under Windows 7 inexplicably started to not recognize newly-added videos. When attempting to browse them via my Samsung smart TV, the latest entries did not appear.

Serviio console, showing status and devices configured for streaming.

I hadn't dramatically changed the file and folder structure from which Serviio streams recently, nor had I made any huge changes to the configuration of Serviio nor my server. Finally though I found a solution which seems to have done the trick. It involved simply configuring Windows' file and folder permissions and file sharing permissions to allow the Everyone group to have read access.

Modifying Windows file and folder permissions to enable Everyone to have read access.

Modifying advanced file sharing permissions to give Everyone read access.

Some users in the Serviio forum suggested giving the PC's local system account read access to one's video repository. I tried this, but after restarting the server and the TV, the situation remained the same. I later discovered a blog post which clarifies the difference between Everyone and other authenticated accounts in Windows:
The Everyone group includes all members of the Authenticated Users group as well as the built-in Guest account, and several other built-in security accounts like SERVICE, LOCAL_SERVICE, NETWORK_SERVICE, and others.

The "local system account" I'd read about in my research on Serviio's forums might not be the same one I gave read access to, so I tried simply giving the Everyone group read permissions, and upon forcing Serviio to refresh its database of videos, it began churning through them and finally resulted in them being visible again via the TV.

One drawback to doing this is that anyone else on my LAN would be able to access my video collection, given that the folder is now openly shared to essentially "everyone". I might need to ramp up the frequency with which I routinely change up my WiFi passphrase, but in the end this is no big deal.